RALEIGH – North Carolina’s Department of Transportation is turning to three univerisities to help develop means of dealing with traffic.

Million dollar grants spread across three years were awarded to UNC-Chapel Hill and North Carolina A&T to create University Research Centers of Excellence.

North Carolina State University also received funding for a center – the same amount, smae time frame, the university confirmed.

“Disruptive technologies will reshape the transportation industry,” said state Transportation Secretary Jim Trogdon in the announcement. “This research will provide North Carolina with data we need to prepare for these changes.”

NCDOT already is grappling with funding issues and demands for construction.

NCSU project

The North Carolina Center of Excellence for Enhancing Mobility and Reducing Congestion will be established at NCSU.

Billy Williams, the Director of North Carolina State University’s Institute for Transportation Research and Education, will lead the center.

Researchers from Duke, Fayetteville State, NC A&T, UNC-Chapel Hill also will be involved.

“We’re excited to work with our NCDOT partners and top university researchers from across North Carolina to enable improvements to our transportation systems that will provide access for all citizens to mobility options that minimize travel delay,” Williams said in a statement.

Three projects planned for the center include:

  • Deep Learning Software for Traffic State Prediction, led by Sambit Bhattacharya, Fayetteville State University
  • Smart Connected and Automated Vehicle Fleet Management: Developing Regional Dispatch Decision Support for Congestion Mitigation, led by Mary (Missy) Cummings, Duke University,
  • First Mile to Health: Improving Healthcare Access in North Carolina, led by Kai Monast, NC State University
UNC project

The UNC project is titled NC Transportation Center of Excellence in Advanced Technology Safety and Policy (NC TSAP).

“This grant will advance HSRC’s collaborative work so that North Carolina can better prepare for evolving future transportation challenges,” said UNC Vice Chancellor of Research Terry Magnuson. “Over its more than 50-year history, HSRC researchers have worked with partners to conduct important research that has translated into programs and policies implemented in North Carolina and beyond, making all of our highways safer.”

UNC noted that NC TSAP will be “focused on improving existing infrastructure to advance road safety, mobility and accessibility, building knowledge on the role of connected and automated vehicles in roadway safety and mobility, with emphasis on economic impact and data.”

NC A&T project

The NC Transportation Center of Excellence in Connected and Autonomous Vehicle Technology (NC-CAV) will be established at NC A&T.

As part of the center’s efforts, a road will be built running between the university and downtown Greensboro that will be reserved for autonomous vehicles.

The center will be located at Gateway Reseach Park’s north campus in Greensboro.

NCSU and UNC-Charlotte researchers also will be involved.

“Connected and autonomous vehicles will revolutionize transportation systems and promise increased capacity, reliability, affordability and sustainability,” said Ali Karimoddini, Ph.D., NC-CAV director and associate professor in the College of Engineering at A&T.